WASHINGTON — Just before the one-month anniversary of Floyd Lee Corkins II’s shooting attack on the Family Research Council’s Washington, D.C. headquarters, the organization’s president, Tony Perkins, told The Daily Caller, “One thing I learned in the Marine Corps and as a police officer, is if you’re taking rounds, you’re getting close to the target.”
At a Monday meeting at the Heritage Foundation, Perkins said that liberal attacks on the socially conservative Family Research Council (FRC) set the stage for the shooting, which authorities have called a domestic terror attack.
“The rhetoric is getting out of hand,” Perkins charged, “and we saw that four weeks ago with the shooting, and I think that’s in large part because of the rhetoric.”
Citing its support for traditional marriage, the liberal Southern Poverty Law Center has designated FRC a “hate group.”
The former Marine and police officer also told the audience, “We’re not going to let those who want to terrorize us and silence us succeed. … We won’t back down, we don’t shrink back. We are going to continue to advance faith, freedom and family in America.”
Recounting the incident that wounded building manager Leo Johnson, who was unarmed and sitting at the guard post, Perkins cited the FBI investigation, saying, “The first shot, had he not ducked, would have hit him in the head.”
The second shot hit Johnson in the arm, but even with only one working arm, Johnson was able to disarm and detain Corkins.
Corkins, Johnson said, quickly pleaded for his life, saying the attack was aimed at the FRC and not Johnson. Not knowing how badly he was wounded, or how far off help was, Johnson later told Perkins in the hospital that he had considered shooting Corkins, but “heard the voice of the Lord” telling him not to. Moments later, FRC staff arrived to assists in detaining the gunman.
Perkis was also clear in his sometimes unpopular support for embattled Rep. Todd Akin, who is running for the U.S. Senate and has been attacked for controversial remarks he made on rape. If Akin rebounds in the polls and still looses without Republican support, that, Perkins said, is on the GOP — not Akin.
“I don’t agree with what he said or how he said it, but he’s apologized,” Perkin said. “The standard we have set here is an unreachable bar. … Anyone who speaks publicly [a lot] who hasn’t said something they wish they could take back is lying.”
“He has rebounded [in the polls],” Perkins added. “If he gets into October and is neck-and-neck or winning, and the Republican establishment stays out and he loses, that falls on them.”
In addition, Perkins shared his thoughts on Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who he has spoken with on the social issues FRC furthers.
“I think he’s getting warmed up and he’s starting to feel more comfortable with the issue,” Perkins said, adding that he told the Mormon GOP candidate, “There are fundamental differences between us — evangelicals and Mormons — and you can’t blur that line, but what you can do is talk about our shared values.”